The city of São Paulo celebrates today 451 years of history. From the school founded by the priest José de Anchieta in 1554, the city evolved to turn into the greatest and richest city in Brazil and the main business center in Latin America.
According to preliminary information from the São Paulo Convention & Visitors Bureau (SPCVB), a private foundation, which has the aim of promoting tourism in São Paulo, the city hosted last year 7.5 million visitors, which represents an increase of 15.38% in relation to 2003. Of this total, 1.5 million were foreigners.
The main thing in the city is the so called ‘business tourism’. According to the executive president at the SPCVB, Roberto Gheler, 70% of the people who visit São Paulo come for work purposes.
For 2005, he foresees that the number of visitors will increase to 8.5 million, where 1.7 million will be foreigners. Until 2010, the Bureau expects the number of tourists to reach 15 million.
“The number of international events is increasing. Last year, with the city’s 450th anniversary celebrations and important events such as the World Cultural Forum, the Urbis (International Congress of Cities) and the Unctad (11th United Nations Conference on Trade and Development), the image of the city was promoted around the world as a place with infrastructure to host activities such as these,” declared Gheler.
According to information from the city hall, it receives annually about 70,000 regional, national and international events, in the most varied sectors, such as culture, sports and business.
One of these occasions, which in Gheler’s opinion proves the city meets the international public’s demands, is the Formula 1 Grand Prix Brazil, which has been taking place in the Interlagos race track, in the south of the city of São Paulo, for 15 years. Before this, the GP took place in the city of Rio de Janeiro.
Amongst other major events in the city is the São Paulo Fashion Week, the main fashion event in the country; the International Cinema Festival, the Book Biennial and the Arts Biennial.
São Paulo currently has more than 240,000 square meters of spaces destined for trade fairs and exhibits and, according to Gheler, there are more than 60,000 rooms in hotels, “where half of them are practically new.”
But São Paulo does not only live off business. “One of our activities is to motivate people to stay longer, so that they can enjoy the leisure options,” stated the executive. According to him, “business tourists” spend on average US$ 280 per day in their stay in the city.
In this sense, according to him, the city counts on “the largest cultural heritage in the Southern Hemisphere.”
Information from the city hall says there are 223 movie theatres, 92 theatres and 70 museums. São Paulo is also a great center for shopping.
In all, according to the city hall, the city counts on more than 230,000 commercial establishments and 70 shopping malls.
The city also has one of the greatest gastronomic diversities in the world, with restaurants serving dishes from 40 different countries.
There are 3,000 restaurants considered of international class, according to Gheler, in a total of 12,500 establishments, according to the city hall. And not mentioning the nightlife, with 15,000 bars and nightclubs.
This diversity in flavours has its origin in the presence of immigrants of various nationalities who helped build the city and the country, and reflects its cosmopolitan character.
Currently there are hundreds of thousands, if not millions of descendants of Arabs, Africans, Germans, Armenians, Spaniards, Portuguese, Italians, Japanese, Chinese and Koreans amongst others.
The Arabs, mainly the Syrians and the Lebanese, had a fundamental role in the construction of the modern São Paulo. It is estimated that about 1 million Arabs and descendants live in the city today. Many traditional companies and institutions from the city of São Paulo were founded by these immigrants.
The 4th Largest in the World
As well as being the main business center in Latin America, São Paulo is one of the largest urban agglomerates in the world, losing only to Tokyo, in Japan, Mexico City and Mumbai, in India.
The population of the city is of about 10.6 million people. If considering the metropolitan region of São Paulo, which adds up to 39 cities including the capital (São Paulo), the number of inhabitants reaches 18.9 million, or 10% of the country’s population.
São Paulo is the capital of the state of São Paulo and represents more than 32% of Brazil’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP), which in 2003 added up to US$ 579.3 billion.
In spite of the advances in the services sector and the development of the industrial hubs in other regions of the country, the city is still the main industrial center in Brazil and 15% of its economy is linked to the transformation industry, according to the Information director of the State System for Data Analysis (Seade) Foundation, Rivaldo Conte.
ANBA ”“ Brazil-Arab News Agency